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Loreto is a small town on the Adriatic coastline near to Ancona. During the 16th century it lay within the Papal States. Since the 14th century the town had been a popular destination for pilgrims because of the 'Holy House of Loreto'. The 'Holy House', or Santa Casa, was supposedly the house in which Mary had lived in Nazareth when she had received news that she would bear the child Jesus.
In 1291, when the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem had fallen, the house had been threatened with destruction by the victorious Turks. This small, plain, stone building was reputedly carried from Nazareth by the ministry of angels and deposited on a hill at Tersatto in Dalmatia, present day Croatia. According to tradition, there was an alleged appearance of the Virgin Mary and miraculous cures were recorded at the site. In 1294 it was miraculously transported across the Adriatic to a laurel grove near Recanati, and from there to Loreto in 1295. A basilica was subsequently built around the Holy House in 1469 as the site became part of the pilgrimage trail. Renaissance Popes remained cautious about fully endorsing the sanctity of the site but continued to issue Bulls in its favour throughout this period.